The Pittsburgh Steelers were well represented at the CSA show at the Dulles Expo Center in Chantilly, VA on Saturday. The CSA show consists of sports, autograph and memorabilia, and it attracted six Heisman Trophy winners, six WWE superstars, various NFL legends and current players. The Steelers family was well represented with a large contingent of current and former players with nine Steelers scheduled to appear at the show. Cam Sutton had to cancel his appearance, so ultimately eight Steelers appeared over the weekend. Lynn Swann, Mel Blount, Franco Harris, Donnie Shell, Jack Ham, Rocky Bleier, Chase Claypool and the most important Steeler in history, Joe Greene attended.
The Steelers players themselves spent time signing autographs and taking photos with fans for a price of course and shows like this one are a reliable source of revenue for players when they retire. Claypool is the only active player who appeared at the show for the black and gold. Prices vary per player, but if you are willing to spend $20-$50, you can meet a Steelers legend and walk away with a basic autograph. The line to meet and snag a Lynn Swann autograph Saturday morning stretched throughout the show and was one of the longest lines of the day according to sources.
If you chose to just browse around the 275 vendors who appeared at the show, you might run into a slue of Hall of Famers killing time in between appearances. Assuming you are polite and do not forget that the legends are being paid for their time, you could easily overhear conversations between Greene and Warren Sapp before snapping a selfie.
— CSA Shows (@CSASHOWS) June 25, 2022
You might run across Blount hanging around Ty Law and Richard Seymour or Steeler dream killer, Tim Tebow, and Doug Flutie chatting on the floor about their golf swings. It is great to see those retired players enjoying the fellowship as they wait their turn in the fish tanks with the eager fans.
Harris spent some time speaking with a family that sported a Greene and Swann jersey with a younger fan confined to a wheelchair sporting a Claypool jersey. Harris is an active ambassador for the Steeler brand and does a fine job representing Pittsburgh and Penn State, his former teams. He also represents Harrah’s as a brand ambassador. The Steelers players draw large crowds and are a fan favorite at events like this one all over the nation.
— CSA Shows (@CSASHOWS) June 25, 2022
Growing up in the 1970’s, I have personally witnessed the changes in the autograph and collectible businesses that have occurred over the last 30 years. I often kick myself and would also probably kick my younger brother if he weren’t 400 miles away for what we did to our hundreds of sports cards in our youth. We quickly opened our packs, gobble down the gum and lined up our football cards on the floor. Yes, we ate and enjoyed the gum for the entire 15 seconds it kept its flavor. We flicked the edges of running backs to send them hurtling down the field.
I hesitate to describe how we simulated passing, but let us just say Terry Bradshaw and Roger Staubach are not exactly in mint condition. The dual star cards that are so coveted and worth so much money today? We cut them up because you cannot play with 2, 3 or even 4 players on 1 card. Scissors in hand, they were grist for the gridiron simulation, we were running in the den.
I also remember that you could get players to sign autographs at ball games, practices if you were patient, and had access, and even in public if you were respectful. I understand why athletes are protective of the signature nowadays. If you signed for a kid before the internet age, it was likely to become a treasured keepsake that they would pass down to their sons and daughters one day. However, when athletes are signing for a group of kids before a game and then go back to the hotel and see their signature going for $1,000 bucks a pop on a sports memorabilia website, you cannot blame them if they are sensitive about the subject. Times have changed and unfortunately in most cases, you have to pay to play in 2022. It is nice to see Steelers legends not only appearing at these shows, but taking a moment or two to make fans and fellow athletes feel a genuine connection. You can be cynical and say it is only for the money, but for the fans who spend hours standing in line to meet a boyhood idol, it is money well spent.
What do you think, Steeler Nation? Have you ever visited a show like this and if so, who did you meet? Who would you pay to spend a minute or two with? Please comment below or on my Twitter @thebubbasq.